The New England Patriots addressed one of their pressing needs a week ahead of the NFL trade deadline, but others still remain.
The Patriots bolstered their pass-catching depth with the addition of Mohamed Sanu. New England, pending all of its receivers stay healthy and N’Keal Harry returns this Sunday, now is fairly set at the wideout position. The reigning Super Bowl champions’ tight end situation, however, still leaves much to be desired.
Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo both have missed the last two games, and Benjamin Watson probably is past his days of being a real weapon. Considering tight end has been such a crucial element for the Patriots throughout the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era, Mike Florio can’t help but wonder if New England will be in the mix for one of the best reportedly available options at the position.
“I don’t know who’s actively kicking the tires, but I mean, we’re going to put New England out there any time a tight end is potentially available because they have nothing at tight end right now,” Florio said Tuesday on NBC Sports’ “Pro Football Talk.” “They picked up Mohamed Sanu last week. Now, I don’t know — after giving up a second-round pick for Sanu — if they’d want to go ahead and make the move for O.J. Howard, but he’s an Alabama guy. You got the whole Nick Saban-Bill Belichick thing. Belichick gives Nick a call, they have a little conversation. ‘What’s O.J. Howard all about?’ I could see the Patriots having an interest. The question is will they offer enough to get the Buccaneers to do it? …I would watch the Patriots just because you’ve got this constant sense that hashtag Tommy isn’t thrilled with the offense and he’d like more weapons and they ran off a couple of weapons he felt good about. So, maybe you give him a tight end if it looks like Gronkowski isn’t going to come back and that’s really died down in recent weeks. I’d keep an eye on them for a possible destination for O.J. Howard.”
The Patriots reportedly already have inquired about Howard but promptly were shut down. However, a report Monday indicated the Bucs actually might listen to offers for the 24-year-old after all, though it would take a “substantial offer” to pry him from Tampa Bay.
Howard only is three years removed from being the No. 19 overall pick in the draft, but his collective performance through two-plus seasons might not be enough for the Buccaneers to command a ton on the trade market. It doesn’t seem like Howard ever is going to flourish in Tampa Bay, so it might be in the franchise’s best interest to take the best offer it receives before his stock further diminishes.
Teams have until 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday to execute trades.